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AME Church Members Learn About the Importance of HIV Testing

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church leaders invited the National HIV Testing Mobilization Campaign to speak to church members about the importance of HIV testing at the 48th quadrennial AME Church general conference in St. Louis, July 4–11, 2008.

Founded in 1787, AME Church is the Nation’s oldest and largest black denomination, with more than 3 million members worldwide. The general conference brought together more than 15,000 bishops, ministers, and lay delegates to worship and conduct church business.

Christopher Bates, Acting Director, Office of HIV/AIDS Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gave a luncheon address on HIV testing and the need for African American faith communities to engage in HIV/AIDS education, prevention, testing promotion, and stigma reduction. Luncheon attendees included members of the AME leadership, members of the AME’s Health Connectional, which is already providing HIV education and testing, as well as AME leaders who want to expand or include testing activities into their programs.

To complement the luncheon presentation, the Campaign hosted an information booth and disseminated fact sheets on HIV testing. Many conference participants expressed their eagerness to share this information with their local churches and get more involved in the fight against this devastating disease.